Most pets don’t have a fun time going to the vet, but an annual checkup is necessary for your dog, and it’s very important that you follow through each year. What’s equally important though is that you make smart, healthy decisions for your pet which protect his health year-round. Doing this will ultimately mean fewer trips to the vet outside your annual checkup schedule, and will prevent health problems over time. What do veterinarians wish you knew about taking care of your dog?
- When in doubt, bring your pet in for a diagnosis, even if that means going to a specialist.
When you try to diagnose your dog on your own, you may overlook important signs or symptoms, or may simply come to the wrong conclusion. This can cause existing problems to worsen, or complications to result. Always bring your pet in for a proper diagnosis from a professional when you are in doubt, and take your dog to a specialist for specialized problems. Specialists usually have an additional 3-5 years of training in a particular area, and can help your dog with problems your regular vet cannot. Make sure that your vet and specialist are aware of each other and are able to communicate. This will make it easier for both of them to do their jobs.
- Exercise your pet.
A lot of pet owners do not exercise their dogs enough. Buy your pet a dog leash for walking or running, and take him out with you daily. Most dogs should go out at least twice a day for fifteen minutes each time, though some dogs may require more exercise or less depending on the breed and the health of the dog. If you are in any doubt, ask your vet for advice on how often and how long to walk your dog next time you are in.
- Feed your pet a nutritious diet.
Vets suggest that many pet owners overfeed their dogs, leading to obesity. Vets recommend that you keep your dog lean. Feed your pet an appropriate amount of food, and make sure to choose nutritious dog food which is AAFCO-approved. Dogs also can benefit from eating vegetables.
- Keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.
It is easy for teeth and gums to fall by the wayside, but remember, dentistry is essential to health for both humans and pets. Dogs need regularly scheduled dental exams to check for problems, as well as cleanings that tackle the teeth and the gums. Some pet owners try to avoid this because it involves anesthesia, but it is necessary to do it every now and again.
- Remember your dog’s psychological health too.
While your dog’s physical health is obviously a top concern, it is important to remember that psychological health is ultimately just as vital. There are many things you can do to keep your dog happy. Healthy and fun dog toys provide pets with something to do, especially when you are away, and provide a sense of companionship. Playing with your dog, exercising together, going on rides together in the car, and teaching him new tricks are all fun ways to keep your dog’s mental health in tiptop shape. Make sure that he has everything he needs to be warm and comfortable indoors and outdoors. And even if you are busy, make plenty of time to spend with him so that he knows he is loved and appreciated.
When you take steps to take care of your dog’s general health, dental health, and psychological health, you will be making your veterinarian’s job a lot easier. And that is exactly what you want; you want your dog’s next annual vet appointment to go as quickly and smoothly as possible without any issues. An ounce or prevention is worth a pound of curse. That is true not only for your health but for your furry companion’s health as well.